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How The Ballpark Area Has Changed Since The Nationals' Last Playoff Series

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The Washington Nationals will host the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday in the National League Division Series, and the flood of fans pouring into the park will see many new additions to the neighborhood that did not exist for the Nats' last playoff series in 2017. 

The West Half apartment building across the street from Nationals Park
The West Half apartment building across the street from Nationals Park

From new apartment buildings such as the architecturally striking West Half to new drinking establishments like the Dacha beer garden, the fast-developing Capitol Riverfront neighborhood continues to change faster than the Nationals' bullpen.

In the last two years, the neighborhood has welcomed 10 new multifamily buildings, two office buildings, 18 bars and restaurants and 17 non-food retailers, according to the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. Another professional sports stadium, Audi Field, opened less than a mile from the ballpark last year. D.C. United will also host a game there Sunday.

The most recent apartment building to deliver near the ballpark is West Half, which began leasing last month and had moved residents into 25 of its 465 units as of Wednesday. Bisnow toured the West Half building and walked the neighborhood to see the latest the ballpark area has to offer. 

The view into Nationals Park from a sixth floor unit in the West Half building
The view into Nationals Park from a sixth-floor unit in the West Half building

JBG Smith, working with New York-based architect ODA and general contractor Hitt Contracting, designed the West Half building specifically with the ballpark in mind. The building features a cantilevered facade with balconies that step back to give half of the building's units — more than 230 apartments — views into the ballpark. 

"This is a singular opportunity in our market and we needed to take advantage of that," JBG Smith Executive Vice President Anthony Greenberg said of the ballpark proximity. "The design challenge to give as many units that premier view as possible and outdoor space drove the shape and massing and form of the building."

A portion of the building's units had originally been planned as condos, but when JBG Smith became a public REIT in 2017 it decided to make the building entirely rentals to maintain a larger, long-term ownership stake in the growing neighborhood. 

While it pivoted from for-sale to rental, JBG Smith did not decrease the quality of the finishes in the units that had been planned as condos, Greenberg said. The apartment project now features two buildings within a building: the high-end 1205 Collection units and the standard West Half apartments. 

West Half's two-floor amenity space with views into Nationals Park
West Half's two-floor amenity space with views into Nationals Park

The 1205 Collection features a separate, high-end lobby and its units are largely on the upper floors of the building with better ballpark views. The building offers shared amenities for all residents, such as a fitness center, a rooftop courtyard and a clubroom. 

Two of the units that had been planned as large condos with prime ballpark views were instead converted to an amenity space when the building switched to apartments. The two-level, indoor-outdoor amenity space, designed by V Starr, has terraces looking into the ballpark and JBG Smith expects it will be crowded with residents during Nationals games once it opens.

“When you double the size of an apartment building, you want to make sure the amenities are commensurate with the number of rental units,” Greenberg said. “We view it as a luxury owners' box, that was sort of the idea behind V Starr was an elevated, box-type experience.”  

The Half Street corridor leading up to Nationals Park, with Jair Lynch's project on the left and JBG Smith's on the right
The Half Street corridor leading up to Nationals Park, with Jair Lynch's project on the left and JBG Smith's on the right

The building's retail fronts Half Street, the corridor leading from the Metro to Nationals Park that has been envisioned as an entertainment street since the ballpark opened in 2008.

JBG Smith's retail space is 80% leased with tenants such as American restaurant Gatsby, Atlas Brew Works, Union Kitchen Grocery, Basebowl, HipCityVeg, Coldstone Creamery and Compass Coffee. The developer expects the retailers will open by Opening Day 2020. 

Across the street, Jair Lynch Real Estate partners signed Punch Bowl Social to anchor the retail in its under-construction building, which includes a mix of apartments and condos. 

As soon as the Nationals' season ends, construction will begin on redesigning Half Street into a curbless, pedestrian-friendly woonerf-style street, and the developer also hopes that will be completed by Opening Day. 

Walters Sports Bar and Mission in the ground-floor of the 1221 Van building across from Nationals Park
Walters Sports Bar and Mission in the ground floor of the 1221 Van building across from Nationals Park

West Half is not the first ballpark-adjacent mixed-use building JBG Smith has delivered in the last two years. One block over, the developer built the 1221 Van building that has welcomed new bars and restaurants for Nationals fans to enjoy.

Mission opened in July 2018, just in time for the neighborhood to host last year's MLB All-Star Game, and Walters Sports Bar — which features 24 self-serve beer taps — opened next door in April. Fans looking for more pre-game drinking venues on the south side of the stadium also have new options that didn't exist during the 2017 playoffs. 

The Dacha beer garden across from Nationals Park
The Dacha beer garden across from Nationals Park

Dacha opened in May in the Dock 79 building. The second outpost for the popular Shaw beer garden, Dacha Navy Yard features an indoor bar and outdoor beer garden directly across from the ballpark's southern entrance. 

The beer garden will feature live music on game days as part of its Oktoberfest celebration. Dacha owner Dmitri Chekaldin said it was packed for Tuesday's Wild Card Game, and he is adding extra staff for Sunday's game. 

"We're all looking forward to the game," Chekaldin said. "The staff is excited."

The Yards' walking bridge leads to the Nicoletta Pizzeria and Due South
The Yards' walking bridge leads to the Nicoletta Pizzeria and Due South

A host of new options have also opened at The Yards, the 48-acre development directly east of Nationals Park. Due South Dockside opened in April 2018, and Nicoletta Pizzeria opened this April. In July, the Shilling Canning Co. restaurant opened at 360 Water St. SE. 

A Nationals baseball pop up in Canal Park, with the Wiseguy Pizza in the background
A Nationals baseball pop-up in Canal Park, with the Wiseguy Pizza in the background

Wiseguy Pizza opened in October 2018 as a stand-alone building in Canal Park. Two additional pizza spots opened in the neighborhood last year: All-Purpose Pizzeria, also at Dock 79, and Oath Pizza

The neighborhood has also welcomed Bluestone Lane, Cava, Chipotle, Circa, Declaration, El Bebe, Roy Boys and Taco City over the last two years. 

The Guild Lofts apartment building at 1346 4th St. SE
The Guild apartment building at 1346 Fourth St. SE

Another new apartment building, Guild, celebrated its grand opening last month. The Brookfield-owned apartment building shares a block with Hoffman & Associates' new condo building, The Bower. 

Five other apartment buildings have opened in Capitol Riverfront since the Nationals' last playoff series, branded as Callisto, Agora, Harlow, Novel and Bixby.

The new Emblem at Barracks Row condo building also sits within the neighborhood's boundaries. And two office buildings, the D.C. Water headquarters and Skanska's 99 M, have opened in the last two years. 

The neighborhood has another 20 multifamily buildings, two hotels and two office buildings under construction, according to the Capitol Riverfront BID. Several of them are rising around Audi Field on Buzzard Point, the Southwest D.C. area that sits within the BID's boundaries. 

CORRECTION, OCT. 7, 11:15 A.M. ET: District Winery is not offering a burger special during Nationals playoff games, as a previous version of this story indicated. This story has been updated.